Moto Morini 1200 Sport
Moto Morini 1200 Sport

Moto Morini 1200 Corsaro Review

Moto Morini 1200 Corsaro

Moto Morini rose from the dead at the Bologna Show last December, with the launch of two new models powered by the company’s brand-new liquid-cooled 87-degree V-twin, eight-valve short-stroke motor. It’s apparent after viewing the Moto Morini company up close, that they are a very serious operation. There are already 73 employees in place at the 2,000 sqm.

Moto Morini factory. Production is now under way employing the sophisticated Porsche-inspired so-called ‘lean production’ method, based on just-in-time logistics, and with three workers collectively responsible for the assembly of each bike. They follow it through from start to finish as the cart it’s mounted on tours the factory’s supermarket component shelves.

Ihad already had the chance last year to ride one of the two well-worn Moto Morini 1200 Corsaro prototypes, which have between them covered more than 100,000 km. So it was illuminating to spend a day with the final production version the week before the July press launch. How well had Moto Morini transformed what, six months ago was already a very impressive motorcycle, into a customer-ready product?

The Corsaro’s relatively low 830mm seat height should allow riders of any stature, women, especially, to feel at home on the Moto Morini, and for a six-foot rider there’s a comfortable if quite upright stance, which lets you see very well over traffic to plot your next rush hour move on the Bologna Tangenzionale. I found the footrests ideally placed to let my knees snuggle into the flanks of the distinctly shaped 18-litre fuel tank, giving a great sense of control.

The one-piece taper-section handlebar is mounted to 50mm risers cast into the upper triple clamp. There are 50mm upside down Marzocchi forks. Cranking the Corsaro round fast sweeping turns on the Autostrada del Sole heading over the Appenines to Firenze was extremely satisfying, because it held a line well even over sealing joints or rough, frost-ravaged surfaces, and the quite stiffly sprung big Marzocchi forks and Sachs rear shock combined to offer good ride quality, while ironing out undue road rash surprisingly well, in spite of fairly stiff settings.

The reason the shock wears quite a hard spring is surely due to the meaty characteristics of the magnificent 1187cc Moto Morini V-twin engine. Not only does it have a wide spread of power, with a massive 140 bhp at the crank at 8500 rpm, but also a huge amount of torque at almost any revs. There’s 123 Nm at 6500 rpm.

You can gas the CorsaCorta motor wide open in top gear at 2500 rpm, and it’ll pull hard and strong in completely linear mode all the way through to the fierce-action 9300 rpm revlimiter. This is quite unexpected for such a heavily oversquare, ultra short-stroke engine, which you’d normally expect to have to rev quite hard to obtain this kind of performance.

The flexible and forgiving engine character means you don’t have to use the gearbox nearly as much as you might expect with that short stroke, since the CorsaCorta motor is especially happy to operate in the 4,000-7,000 rpm area. You find yourself surfing the torque curve to hold a gear over a twisty stretch of road, interspersed with short straights. There’s an average of 1200 rpm between each of the evenly spaced top three gears, and in fact with this kind of engine performance there’s really no need for closed-up gear ratios in the six-speed extractable cluster.

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First thing I noticed when I thumbed the starter is how quiet the engine is. There isn’t the mechanical racket you get from many Ducati engines, for example, whether desmodue or Testastretta None of the whirrs and rattles and general clatter that’s always been part of owning a desmo V-twin. The Moto Morini CorsaCorta motor is not only much quieter, it also feels more refined when burbling to itself at idle with an offbeat lilt through the twin semi-conical Termignoni exhausts.

They deliver a great exhaust note, but are not exactly eye candy, thanks to the requirements of Euro 3. The European noise police rules require the fat silencers, which inevitably prompt a likely speech bubble ‘Does my ass look big in this?’ Expect many Morini customers to sign up for the optional Termignoni carbon cans which will be available in the extensive Morini aftermarket catalogue being launched at the Milan Show in November.

The 1200 Corsaro’s meaty, muscular might makes power wheelies almost embarrassingly easy to pull just by winding on the throttle in the bottom three gears. Top-gear roll-on is excellent too, with an extra dose of engine acceleration from 6000 rpm onwards. The Morini big twin rivals the Benelli TNT 1130 as the ultimate Latin musclebike par excellence. In practice the Moto Morini feels exactly like a Honda, Suzuki or Ducati 90-degree V-twin in terms of vibration, or lack of it.

It’s also pretty fast yet composed at high speeds for a naked roadster. I saw 7800 rpm in sixth gear, or around 230 kph, with near-total stability.

The legendary Connection which GP riders dream of is present in abundance here. You can feel with your right hand exactly how much power is reaching the tarmac, via the rear Pirelli Diablo. You soon learn to appreciate how much confidence the well-sorted, balanced-feeling chassis with its 51/49 weight distribution gives you. Even the stiff suspension didn’t make the Corsaro skip or jump around unduly on rougher surfaces.

Can’t think of many better bikes for the ultimate Sunday morning ride into the Alps or Peak District or San Gabriel Mountains, especially once they fit the production exhaust system. Conventional rather than radial Brembo four-pot calipers grip the 320mm front discs. The factory follows the Massimo Tamburini school of thought that a non-radial setup is better for everyday street use than a radial one, especially on a naked bike.

There’s excellent bite from the Morini’s brake package, especially when you use the slipper clutch to help access the meaty engine braking delivered by those big-bore cylinders and the 11.8: 1 compression.

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I can’t avoid restating this, my initial impressions after riding the prototype Moto Morini musclebike seven months ago, have now been reaffirmed after riding the production version. This is as a potent new contender in the flourishing Naked sports market which is up 33 per cent in Europe over the past year. This is thanks to sales not only of the middleweight J-bikes which underpin the sector, but also bigger-engined models like the Yamaha MT-01, Aprilia Tuono, Benelli TnT, Triumph Speed Triple 1050, and of course the grandaddy of them all, the Ducati Monster in all its various guises.

Moto Morini 1200 Sport
Moto Morini 1200 Sport

Though Ducati’s new product development boss Claudio Domenicali claims that We don’t see Moto Morini as representing any serious competition to us, I beg to differ after riding the 1200 Corsaro in customer-ready guise. For this shows every sign of being a bike which will give Ducati even more of a headache in coming years than has the MV Agusta F4. The Monster range is the American owned company’s cash cow, which props up some other less successful products.

The MV remains the bike the iconic 916-to-998 Ducati model should have evolved into, but couldn’t or didn’t. Now here’s Moto Morini with a Monster competitor delivering increased performance, a more refined mechanical package, and at lower cost. Just wait, after riding the 1200 Corsaro, you’ll have to pinch yourself to be convinced this isn’t the more modern looking, re-engineered Evo version of the Monster that Ducati really should have built any time in the past five years.

Maybe now they’ll have to.

Photos by Kyoichi Nakamura

Moto Morini 1200 Corsaro Specifications

Engine Moto Marini – Bialbero CorsaCorta

Configuration 87degree liquid cooled V-twin

Bore stroke 107 x 66mm

Displacement 1187cc

Power 140bhp @ 8500; 123Nm @ 6500

Injection Magneti Marelli

Moto Morini 1200 Sport
Moto Morini 1200 Sport
Moto Morini 1200 Sport
Moto Morini 1200 Sport

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